A Less Modest Proposal

Recently some folk have gotten their shorts in a twist because someone has the temerity to suggest that killing a 200 year old whale is not necessarily a good idea. Efforts to address those upset have been very unsuccessful because any word to suggest that Native harvest of whales should be challenged is labeled racism (which it, by definition, is not).

There is way too much emotive baggage, way too little reflection on issues underlying our cultural prejudices. Tribalism is inherent in Homo sapiens… we are virtually hard wired to be tribal as that provided some selective benefit as we evolved from under the shadows of the thunder lizards , but now it will kill us all. The harvest of marine mammals is still (and will likely become more of) a widely debated ethical decision (much as has happened with respect to pigs) as no human will die of lack of whale meat. The question is one of cultural relativism. If I eat children should I be allowed to continue eating children? Really. Why shouldn’t I eat your child? Or just mash it up as a blood sacrifice to my gods (which, after all, is not atypical for Homo sapiens)? While Dean Swift was being ironic when he penned “A Modest Proposal”, the point he makes is still very poignant, and the taking of marine mammals is as close to the dominionism now infecting our political culture.

If Critter A is hungry and he wants to eat another critter, he will run into some issues eventually, and he develops a credo that allows him to eat some (but not all) other critters. That credo, based largely on belief, is a matter of faith. You eat pig because you believe the pig is dumb, or you have some divine authority, or other excuse that applies to pig, but not dog, horse, or people. Many Neolithic and tribal cultures invent a mythology that results in their belief that their prey gives themselves freely to predator. This is, as suggested above, no far reach from dominionism.

Arguing that a specific cultural approach to life is inappropriate is not necessarily racist (and I think is rarely so, though humans are particularly inventive when it comes to being stupid). I think Female Genital Mutilation is horrific, yet I have no real qualms about Male Genital Mutilation… imagine that! Such cultural prejudices are endemic to Homo sapiens. At core it is now essentially a matter of faith. With the clash of cultures, questions will be asked, and I think that is appropriate – that is what Montesquieu was talking about when he discussed commerce, and the claims of “historical accident”, “cultural artifact”, or “religious tenet” can, and eventually will,  wear thin.


Swift, Jonathan. A Modest Proposal. 1729. https://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/modest.html

Paul Jenkins and the Brave New World

Paul Jenkins has now come forth and apparently unfurled the fact that he suffers from BobLynnefaction, an edema of the forebrain that inhibits rational thought. In his most recent malefactory diatribe he argues against Ballot Measure 1 (though he is apparently so ill he could not manage to offer a name or a pointer to the text of the proposition ).

Horrors of horrors, he argues, voter registration is a ploy of the Godless Left to undermine the Republic! For shame, he cries, that Alaskans won;t get off their lazy asses and register themselves!

Of course, Jenkins, despite his illness (this brings to mind the millions of monkeys typing out Shakespeare eventually) is correct (at least in part, and frankly we can’t expect much more than that from poor Paul, I mean look who he is named after…. the nuttiest fruitcake in the last two millennia). No, not that Alaska should seek to intentionally disenfranchise ANY voter, but that Alaska voters SHOULD BE expected to rise to their civic obligations.

Jenkins demurs on the ideal of civic obligation, arguing, like all well-behaved anti-statists (whatever those are) against their beloved Saint Locke (only second to Saint Reagan) that no one should be obliged to perform any civic duty. In doing so he essentially eviscerates the entire classical liberal scheme underlying his pseudo-philosophy, but that is a painful topic for another day. What is pertinent today is that as Locke suggests, one’s decision to become a member of a polity must trigger a set of reciprocal obligations among those so electing. In other words, under classical liberalism, if you chose to me a member of the polity, who are expected to pull your weight as far as civil obligations, including military service, providing subsistence for the poor, etc.

Bob Lynn the unethical legislative ideologue who has repeatedly sponsored Alaska Voter ID bills (HB 57 being the most recent version), and after whom Jenkins’ malady is named, was so badly taken with the condition that he suffered some blindness and paralysis.  Your charming correspondent pointed out to Rep. Lynn that he has a really really good idea that should in fact be taken up by the federal government (more on that below), because, after all, we don;t want any second class citizens in Alaska and we DO want all Alaskans to be able to easily obtain a picture ID. The onty thing missing in Bob’s plan was the establishment in every village in Alaska a full time DMV office fully capable of issuing picture IDs.  This was important because the likes of Rep. Lynn, in their wisdom, had to date made it lawful to drive without a license in rural Alaska because they were too cheap to provide access to essential State services.

Aha!  But no more.  Now, with one brilliant stroke Alaska could not only make sure there was a continuing dearth of Alaska voter fraud (yes, of course Jenkins supports Alaska VoterID proposals though there is no evidence of voter fraud in Alaska) but screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-10-47-44-amcould do away with the second class citizen status to which those in the bush have been relegated. And we could actually get a handle of how many people we had in the state. WOW!  Of course Lynn, asked if he had just overlooked this, did not respond. After a number of attempts to elicit a reply he was asked if he had intentionally meant to deny rural people access to essential State services, and at that point he “unfriended” me.  Imagine that, to get unfriended on FACEBOOK by a legislator because you are trying to clearly understand just what the fellow is trying to accomplish with his proposed legislation?!

Of course, there is more to this conversation, such as the fact that Lynn et al ganged up to pass a legislative prohibition on the State of Alaska spending any money whatsoever on ensuring that a new Alaska ID would comply with the Federal REAL ID standards (which would allow Alaskans to use their State ID to get on military bases (a significant activity in Anchorage for example, as JBER – Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson – covers much of what is Anchorage) and get into airline terminals! Governor Walker (the Unity Governor) seeks to resolve this impasse by passing a bill that allows the State to issue TWO different photo IDs, which would in fact cost more than just doing RealID compliance, but here is the kicker: the AKGOP argues that RealID compliance would infringe on the individuals right not to be identified because the RealID Act requires that the ID data be built such as it could be accessed to enable law enforcement usage. Yes folk, the law and order, anti-terrorist, PictureID crowd wants to ensure that we have people in this State who are unidentified.  Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, eh?

What ties this all up for me is that ancillary observation that all these VoterID supporters also tend to be persons who want to be able to read  and interpret the U. S. Constitution as a seven year old. Well, OK!

Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state shall have at least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the state of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three. Article I, Section 2, U.S. Constitution.

We can, therefore, resolve ALL our census issues by enabling a State by State program that requires all individuals in that State to be counted by way of identification. screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-11-15-49-amState ID cum VoterID cum federal entrance document cum key to social security number look-up, etc. etc. It would be like being able to get a driver’s endorsement on a passport that would be more convenient to carry, while ensuring that the census was accurate, that we knew where all aliens were living, and our gerrymandering at least accurate.  Let’s all say it together, boys and girls, “LIONS, AND TIGERS, AND BEEAAARRRRRSSSSS!!!!”

Taking Stock

In an attempt to look closely at the support for Margaret Stock by millennial self-identified “Berniecrats”, when one published a meme touting Ms. Stock in the Alaskans for Bernie Sanders stockFacebook group I invited him to specifically identify any progressive legislation now pending in the US Senate that Ms. Stock would be willing to commit to co-sponsor.  I suppose this could be considered “trolling” because it was at the time very clear to me that Stock was and continues to be very much a true Alaskan Republican, in no small part because her major endorsement thus far (other than dog musher Jeff King)  was from the The Centrist Project. After lots of your typical deflection,  the poster suggested that I address my concerns to the candidate, so I did. I e-mailed Ms. Stock’s campaign:

The question has arisen, in as much as Ms. Stock has indicated that she is receiving support from the Centrist PAC (which some read as Rockefeller Republican) and has stated that she wants to work with other Senators to get things done, whether she would co-sponsor any of the following progressive bills now pending in the Senate: S2391, S2237, S2142, S2054, S2023, S1832, S1713, S1631, S3118, S3078, S3025, S2789, S2761, S2744, S2647, S2624, S2578, S2436, S1709 , S1381, S793.

And almost immediately I received an answer directly from Ms. Stock:

Thank you for reaching out to ask about my positions on the 22 Senate bills that you listed in your email. As you can imagine, I don’t have the bill numbers memorized, but first chance I get, I will check the names of the bills and let you know my positions on them.  Do you want to set up a time to talk by telephone so we can chat about your views on these bills?

Also, just FYI, the Centrist Project is not a PAC and they do not provide money to political candidates. Instead, they are a national project that endorses candidates, and they send emails to their supporters and ask the supporters to send individual donations to the candidates.  But again, the Centrist Project is not a PAC.

Let me know if you’d like to set up a time to talk by telephone.

And I quickly responded:

Dear Margaret,

FYI, I never said that the Centrist Project was a PAC, and there is a Centrist Project PAC, the Centrist Voice, a separate segregated fund of the Centrist Project (https://centristproject.nationbuilder.com/centrist_voice). I am surprised that you are not aware of it, especially as the CPV donated to  screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-5-41-45-pmcampaigns in 2014, and has done so again in 2016 according to the CRP.

My views on progressive legislation are not, of course, an issue in the campaign. But as you have been touted by many Democrats as a progressive candidate, I wanted to know if you were a centrist, or a progressive, and I thought if you were to confirm your willingness, if elected, to co-sponsor the legislation mentioned, that would go quite a ways to resolving that question. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter,    Marc [list at left, attached]

Margaret has now been caught out, as it were. The website she references for her campaign is a joint project of The Centrist Project and The Centrist Project Voice, and the website continues to solicit money, and all the money continues to go into its PAC and the PAC continues to file FEC forms and spend money (see this OpenSecrets link).  But Margaret (much like any Republican), just doubles down:

Centrist Project Voice isn’t an active PAC. It looks like they gave $75.00 to candidates in 2016. I have not received any funds from them.

Yes, the position of the person who proposes to be our new US Senator is that because the last quarterly filing shows only $75 in candidate support the PAC is not “active”, nor is she receiving any funds. Well, one has to wonder, then, why she sought their endorsement, especially in as much as the 2014 candidates that The Centrist Project endorsed received thousands of dollars!

While I let all that stew for a bit, I plumbed the Centrist Project website and made a donation.  I was thanked for my donation via an e-mail with an address of asmith@centristproject.org (Andy Smith, past Outreach Manager for The Centrist Project) but the e-mail said it actually came from Dane Sharrets, whose LinkedIn profile indicates that he is the current Outreach Manager at the project and the one responsible for the current web site. Of course, that may be problematic for Mr. Sharrets, as e-mails to both asmith@centristproject.org (the e-mail employed by Mr. Sharrets) and my attempt at what might be Mr. Sharrets’ address, dsharrets@centristproject.org, bounced. I followed up with a telephone call that went to voice mail and I left a message.

And no, I have not had anything further either from Ms. Stock’s campaign, nor from the Centrist Project.  I will update this if I hear from either.

Now, am I suggesting that you not vote for Margaret Stock?  Nope. Am I suggesting that you vote for someone else?  No there as well.  Am I suggesting that any of the points raised above are earthshaking? screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-10-30-52-amSorry to disappoint. Margaret Stock was, is, and will continue to be a Republican: she contributed to the McCain 2008 campaign, as well as to the campaign of a “true Alaska conservative” (Treadwell  2014), and her positioning today makes it clear that she is looking for a way to avoid the ideological litmus tests inherent in today’s GOP primaries.  It’s great that people want to “take back” the GOP,  it’s just unfortunate that as contrasted to Senator Sander’s efforts, they are trying to do that from outside the party.
The bit that is problematic is the confusion by self identified “Berniecrats” that use of the word “independent” somehow equates with some sense of one’s political views being progressive. Let’s put it this way, if you can argue that John McCain and Mead Treadwell are progressive goto guys for our country, then we apparently have no common understanding of what the term “progressive means.  Don’t get me wrong, I have often opined how politics is rendering so much of our language virtually meaningless, but this would be rather an extreme example. So extreme, that when I read the penultimate graph in Cal Thomas’ latest piece,

Only one candidate for president is capable of overturning the “money changers” in Washington. The political, governmental and media elites have had their chance to turn things around and they have failed. Now it’s time for…

I felt that Thomas (about as far right as one can get and still appear in a major newspaper) was, in  borrowing Senator Sander’s script, pulling the same thing.

You can take Stock. You can have Trump as well.  Are they two peas in a pod?  ‘Won’t say; wouldn’t be prudent…’  But they both look to take advantage of fear and anger, don’t they?

A Conversation on Male Privilege

So I asked…


Me: Am I a sexist for not agreeing that women are entitled to be afraid to be out at night because they are weak objects of ravening male lust?
Her: Well the issue is that you can’t tell people how to feel, especially since you don’t have the same situation. Do you walk around with you housekeys threaded through your fingers? I do that on the regular. And for many women, they may be trying to ward off a second sexual assault, since colleges are hotbeds of rape. That is my personal point of view, so I’d say try to see it from that perspective before making judgements on people’s legitimate fears. I wouldn’t call that sexist though. Maybe willfully ignorant of certain realities.
I had a date once tell me this “hillllarious” story about his buddy leaning out of a car and slapping all the asses of a bunch of women on one of those party bicycle brewery tours. I didn’t think it was hilarious. He didn’t understand why not. Until women can walk around without men whispering to them on the street, “Mmmmm, You’re so hot… Be careful” then that’s the point of view I have to have to keep myself safe from further trauma. And you can say things are safe, but maybe no one wants to rape you.
Me: I suspect that’s the case, but the rate per 100,000 of rape of a Caucasian woman by a stranger is .5 so it is 16 times more likely that the nice white ladies chewing my ass are going to die behind the wheel of their cars then get raped… so, the arguably non-sexist question to ask would be why they don’t stop driving….
Her: A car accident is much MUCH less traumatic than sexual violation. I didn’t have to go to a shrink after my car accident.
Me:  I am not trying to argue that people should not be aware of their surroundings…. but simply that telling people they should be fearful is not good for the public sense of security.
Her: If you’re standing next to a bear, you know it’s a bear. If you’re standing next to a rapist, he looks like everyone else. Not all men are rapists of course, but one rapist can cause irreparable damage to many many women. We’d kill the bear. We tell the rapist he’s fine unless the victim’s story and evidence are solid as fuck
It’s pretty rampant, you can’t deny that. Not as rampant as car accidents, but I run out of fingers counting the people I personally know have been allegedly sexually assaulted. And until you’ve gone through that trauma, you won’t know the fear. And because of that reality, the fear is legitimized. Stop the rapes and women will stop being afraid. We could start with increased sentencing and removal of statute of limitations
And on the point of strangers – if you’ve been raped by a friend or acquaintance then it does tend to paint strangers with a black brush. And that’s a victim’s struggle and right. Just because stats say that strangers usually aren’t rapists, it doesn’t mean that victim doesn’t fear men to some extent. Plus strange men like to creep on women A LOT.  Not rape, but certainly ruins a section of your waking day. Some guy whispers to me on the street on a Saturday night that I’m hot and to be careful? Doesn’t make me want to go dancing anymore, or not watch my drinks like a hawk around strange dudes It ruins things. A lot of men ruin things for women.
You can call that sexist, but the feeling is soooo gross and dark and upsetting. And every time that happens it brings some of the trauma back up – makes it real hard to trust strangers or give them the benefit of the doubt I should say
So when does “being aware of your surroundings” become “Don’t turn your back on your drink for A SECOND” and how are you supposed to be happy and joyful in that situation? Constant diligence is a necessity. Being aware of surroundings isn’t enough anymore. Well actually it was never enough, but we’ve come a long way from it being ok for a husband to rape his wife. Now rape is marginally frowned upon. Still not enough.
I don’t think you’re a sexist.  But you do have to acknowledge there is male privilege in telling women not to be afraid.

An intriguing exploration of some issues (thank you, Ms. Solfadoresido, for bringing this to my attention). http://www.robot-hugs.com/risky-date/ screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-10-02-48-am

Rosay, Andrés. “Forcible Rapes and Sexual Assaults in Anchorage.” Alaska Justice Forum 20, no. 4 (Winter 2004). Accessed September 2, 2016. http://justice.uaa.alaska.edu/forum/20/4winter2004/a_rapes.html.

If There Are Elk There Must Be Elves

A friend wrote that he was now convinced there was an elk on Whidbey Island. I smiled.  I had stopped and visited with a young bull moose on the way to the university this morning… Got me to thinking that there are quite a number of people to my mind who conflate “fear” and “respect”. I was not afraid of the moose in the least, but I certainly respected him for what he was.  I had no reason to change my path of travel, and no cause to have to travel in a pack.

Now, in Anchorage, our local constabulary has advised the citizenry that they should beware isolated areas like parks, bike trails or unoccupied streets, and if one plan to be out ‘late at night’, to travel with a group, because we have had 25 homicides so far this year (certainly no record for Anchorage, most of them, believe it or not, taking place
Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 5.10.46 PMwhere police are rarely seen —  I will leave you to put two and two together on that one).
 
And to put that in perspective, the homicide rate in Anchorage is the same as the car crash mortality rate for Alaska and the maternal mortality rate in North Western Europe. The US, of course has a maternal mortality rate three times Western Europe’s. The rates per 100,000 for syphilis and gonorrhea are both about the same as the homicide rate here.
 
This all seemed to come together during a discussion of whether Trump was winding up the hate and fear across the political spectrum. I pointed out that any perceived decrease in personal or community security (as was being projected by our police) was going to raise fears, and rising fears produced irrational aggression and/or flight, and what we all really needed to do was take back our public spaces (real, as well as virtual):
Unfortunately, at the same time the Trumpus is winding folk up, we have the APD telling everyone to bar the door because it is unsafe to be out in Anchorage. The “answer” is not to hide, but to take back both the streets AND the tone of conversation.
And of, of course, there were exceptions taken. After all, as I pointed out, there is a perfectly sane reason for all white people to avoid Haarlem, Five Points, hhalf of Detroit and most of Baltimore isn’t there 😉  Apparently, while I am a man, and I can change, if I have to, I guess,  it can’t be soon enough for some…..
 

“‘Elk on Whidbey?’, you said?”  I think a sense of proportion comes of mixing with wild creatures on a regular basis. Much as I don’t reach for a gun when I see a black bear, I don’t reach for a gun when I see a black kid in a hoody. And when I talk about community policing I am not talking about squad cars assigned to districts, I am talking about officers spending time on foot in neighborhoods getting to know what happens there, and giving the people there an opportunity to get to know their local police. Public safety is a two way street if you want to talk about security, and not reactivity (the latter being mostly what we engage in today).  You may want to wreak vengeance on the dastardly perp, but I would rather keep the crime from taking place.

I live with bears, moose, geese, and the occasional criminal. Get outside 🙂 Tell your elected officials you’d like to be able to stroll the neighborhood with a police officer on a regular basis. Tell the Angry Birds to stay out from behind the wheels of their automobiles.

 

Is “Multipurpose” Just Another Word for Poorly Done?

I was a bit distressed, considering the state our trails are in, to read about the proposed ordinance to make electric bikes legal on our trails.  Let us reflect for just a moment…

  • Is there a general speed limit on our trails?
  • Are there specific speed limits that address trail circumstances and conditions (turn radius and the number of turns, width of trail, slope, lateral visibility, other traffic, etc.)?
  • Is there any enforcement on our trails?

I think by and large the answer to these questions is a resounding, “NO!”, and yet suddenly, without regard to the multitude of issues we do face on our multpurpose trails (yes, horses are allowed on our trails…) here we have an ordinance about an electric bike.

Are we first going to do something about the presumably illegal Segues and powered wheelchairs on our trails? How about the loose dogs fouling our greenbelts? Or should we think about the thousands of kids illegal biking on the trails without helmets?

The simple fact of the matter is that we have a number of criteria for the funding of “trails”, yet we seem incapable of effectively managing use of those trails once they are built.

A two hundred pound individual moving at 25 mph down an MOA bike path on a bicycle colliding with an unmanaged two year old suddenly dashing across the trail is a recipe for disaster – yet we seem unconcerned. Missoula and other locations try to address some of these issues by creating BERMED bike lanes that allow high speed bicycles to use city streets without fear of automobiles, while other cities provide what amount to bicycle only highways (keeping the three parents with the 3 double wide strollers stopping to chat from shutting down the trail). We put some paint on the road and look the other way…

Cologne Bike Highways

And wait!  There’s more!  Despite Danny Sullivan’s protestations (and the Mayor’s decision to keep Mr. Rodda in place), we have a huge burden of deferred maintenance, an ongoing crisis in grossly inadequate construction practice in laying trail, and unmet continuity issues. Do we continue to argue that maintenance of trails only be managed through State Cap Budget items? Why use local bonding to deploy apparently inappropriate or inadequate infrastructure (wooden bridges, anyone)? Is it time to put a stop to “partners” running our parks?  How do we balance ENFORCEMENT of trail usage mandates as against planning, design, construction, and maintenance of those resources?

I think it only fair to say that Mr. Traini has the cart before the horse.

Time for State Employees to Walk in Others’ Shoes

I sent the e-mail below to the Medicaid Expansion Coordinator and the DPA Director, Sean O’Brien as a follow up to my prior investigation. It has only been a couple of days, but I suppose I really am not expecting much of anything with respect to a substantive response.  Like so much else, we have here a potentially great idea, with simply horrendous implementation.

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The communication below and any files transmitted with it
may contain privileged or confidential information. It is
solely for use by the individual for whom it is intended,
even if addressed incorrectly. If you received this e-mail
in error, please notify the sender; do not disclose, copy,
distribute, or take any action in reliance on the contents
of this information; and delete it from your system.

Thank you for your cooperation.
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Dear Ms. Martin,

While I have been more than willing to accept what the Chris
Ashenbrenner had to say about the problems with the roll-out of the
Medicaid Expansion, any experience dealing with the claimant side of the
system is immediately explanatory of why there are so many people angry
and frustrated  with that system.

To start with, much of the information received by applicants from DPA
offices, or provided on the ARIES website, is inaccurate or misleading.
When I have tried to bring that to the attention of agency personnel, I
have been blown off, with the result that to my way of thinking,
nothing is ever going to be done to fix it. By way of example, if you
are dumped into ARIES by healthcare.gov, your application does not show
up in ARIES, even AFTER someone has looked at the file and sent you a
demand for verification letter.  If you have an application on file, you
must be able to confirm the status of that application through ARIES.
Period.

Anyone who thinks this

That was not the greatest explanation, so let me try again.  
The number you reported prefixed with a T is a temporary 
application number while the application is in processing.   
No access is available at the self-service portal (where 
application was made) while in this temporary status.  
The application has been transferred (electronically) to 
an office for processing.  After the case is processed and 
approved it will be assigned a permanent number starting with 
a 3.  This permanent number can then be used to access features 
provided on the portal. 
is in any way explanatory (or satisfactory) needs to see a mental health
professional. Let's see... it suggests that the application number does
not become an application number until the application is not longer an
application, and suggests, contrary to what the ARIES site says, that
you can see the status of your application based on your application
number...  but of course since the only number you get while your
application is an application is the application number and that
application number is not an application number, it is fairly obviously
that most of what one might have tried to do for an hour trying to use
web tools to determine the status of an application has been totally
wasted.  Moreover, any attempt to speak to someone at the DPA office
results in you being put in a queue to leave a message which is never
returned.

As far as the back log is concerned, since it is fairly evident that no
one is doing triage on the applications, and a call to the published
telephone number about emergent issues results only in an e-mail to an
office manager who already is failing to triage applications, it is
pretty clear why applicants are getting steamed. For example, waiting 6
or 7 weeks to THEN tell an applicant he has 1 week to send in dozens of
documents while making it impossible for the applicant to discuss with
anyone the document request is, in a word, bizarre. And YES, that
is exactly what DPA is doing.  Calls to claim workers are not returned.
When they are, no message is left. And no call backs are ever attempted.

Indeed, as relates to FFM referrals, since data will in fact be sparse
because it is all electronic and no documents are accepted, you know
that no application will be accepted without receipt of additional
documentation where there is any evidence of self-employment, and yet
you sit on those applications.  Where gross FFM income is below $19000
you STILL sit on those applications, and eventually ask the applicant to
prove expenses, when it makes no difference what the expanses were if
the gross income was below the target income level (if I have $12000 in
W2 income and and $6000 in gross self employment income, it doesn't make
any difference what my business expenses are, I am still eligible).

And what IS one supposed to do in response to a request that simply
says, "Provide documentation of expenses." What expenses? What kind of
documentation? Questions? Sorry, you may NOT speak to anyone who can
answer them 

As far as published data, it is frankly unbelievable, and while there
may be an explanation for why it seems incredible, the Department does
itself no service by not providing same.  By way of example, consider
this data:

                             "Jan-16"   "Feb-16"  "Mar-16"
"Incoming Work"              "4,352"    "3,672"    "4,501"
"Work Completed              "5,136"    "5,075"    "5,042"
"True Application Backlog"   "2,692"    "1,573"    "2,053"

How can you have an Application Backlog of 1573 in February, complete
541 more applications in March than came in, and then have a resulting
backlog of 480 more than you had in February?

And providers. I have spoken to quite a few over the last several
weeks.  Many are just fed up and are ready to quit accepting Medicaid.
Yes, they have been told to go ahead and treat as Medicaid will
eventually pay (really?), but all the provider has is a voice on a
telephone, and that does not pay the bills if payment is in fact NOT
forthcoming. Thankfully, many will simply hold the bill for 30 days.
And if a provider won't hold the bill, and won;t serve you because
Medicaid can't provide even a claimant number?  Well, you are in a sense
worse off than you were before Expansion, aren't you?

The system simply is not working well for those who need it to work for
them, in no small part because communication is non-existent, and
urgency is treated with casual disregard by the system.  We can do better.

Marc

Marc Grober, Esq.
5610 Radcliff Dr.
Anchorage Alaska 99504
email: marc@interak.com
cell:  (907)2272417

SB174 | An Open Letter to the Alaska House Judiciary Committee

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I apparently (and unfortunately) missed the discussion in the House (and Senate) education committees on the intersection of SB174 and the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990 as amended by theScreen Shot 2016-04-12 at 7.47.50 AM Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (and interpreted by the 9th Circuit).

As I read the Act, it would prohibit firearms, for example, in most of UAA’s West Campus (in as much as UAA property is not “private” property and lies within 1000 feet of a series of public schools (Lake Otis Elementary and KCC).

It seems pretty clear that there needs to be an extended fiscal note to address the full and true cost of this legislation, from the hundreds of thousands the Legislative Council would have to spend to attempt to challenge the federal Act, to the hundreds of thousands that the University system has indicated it will take to implement the Bill (should it be adopted over the objections of the UA system.)

Of course, there are other questions besides those of a pecuniary nature. For example, how will UA students know when they are in a Gun Free School Zone, and what might happen when Law Enforcement attempts to apprehend a person on UA campus in possession of a firearm within such a School Zone. Is the Legislature going to try and bar APD, AST, and the FBI from enforcing federal law on UA property? And how would the legislature actually manage that. Of course, it gets messier by the minute, because with a right to stand one’s ground and make a citizen’s arrest, it is only a matter of time before we have a shoot-out on West Campus, with stray bullets whizzing through elementary classroom windows. Yes, I am sure that all those Lake Otis students will feel much safe with the adoption of SB174 (though I am concerned that some unpatriotic bozos might well try to set up a defensive perimeter at the extent of the Gun Free School Zone and man that perimeter with armed guards – some people!)

While I do understand that the House majority is willing to invest time and energy in any proposition that avoids addressing the critical need to adopt at least a 15% nominal top rate graduated income tax, I am sure that in your eagerness to promote your legislative agenda you will, as always, act diligently, rationally and deliberately to address ALL the ramifications of such legislation, and, in the event that you don’t manage that, at least make it clear how you are going to fund both sides of the extended litigation and havoc you will otherwise be creating.

Marc Grober

Catch the Wave

Recently I came across a bit of a celebration with regard to the passage in the Alaska House (which at this moment is presiding over Alaska’s historic budgetary meltdown) of HB275, a bill that provides for an Inidigenous People’s Day in Alaska. Super… I am excited any time something that is not overwhelmingly toxic passes either chamber of the Alaska Legislature. But upon review of the bill (which I found a bit confusing – here you check for yourself – http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill_text.asp?hsid=HB0275C&session=29) I was left in the lurch: what is the definition of indigenous people, and if it is defined with respect to a window of immigration as to a specific geography, what are the specifics as to that window and that geography? – Are we in fact rejecting the late arriving Inuit, who came to Alaska thousands of years after most of Beringia popped on in? Inquiring minds and all…

A friend argued that Harriet (Harriet Drummond, the Democratic Representative who introduced the bill, and the gracious lady who allows my friend to co-habit with her on occasion),

walks through and names the Tribes affected. She discusses science and engineering and traditional knowledge that need to be part of a paradigm of rational discourse framing solutions for the future. The epistemology analysis of Dr. Oscar Kwagley suggests a trans-personal logic that is not consensual but imperative. Dr. Kleinfeld’s monograph suggesting spatial intelligence, a useful skill when applied to the White Alice Sites in the 1950s, might have relevance to the multi-layered challenges of Arctic and Northern development. Harriet’s point: engaging the indigenous knowledge network is not mere tokenism but a potentially critical part of our socioeconomic future.

Uh-oh! Despite what some of you may think, I take what my friends say (well, at least what some of my friends say) seriously (perhaps that is one reason I don’t have …. well that IS another story…) so I understood that an substantive response must be tendered, and thus I find myself here, writing to myself about stuff that few, if any, would consider, were it not for its very provocative implications (which have a tendency, as provocative shit does, to run off with us). But that is perhaps why Raven loves old farts; we hang around for the punch line. So off we go!

Unfortunately Judith’s work in this area (Kleinfeld, 1973) is predicated on a dubious framework (multiple intelligences, etc) that produces lots of theoretical conjecture and, frankly, no evidentiary support. Nevertheless, it DOES seem to coddle the views of Jensen et al. (a fact that appears to tickle her funny bone, though I think many would be indignant at her playfulness). Even without such aggravation, the horrific looks on the faces of those attending sessions of the local (Anchorage) RTI conferences in past years when experts actually explained the impact of non-verbal culture on children was a sight to behold, lol. In sum, while there are some intellectual curiosities for some of us to ponder there, Judith presents a Pandora’s box, a box perhaps best left unopened?

That is not to say that any data or perspective should be ignored, and narrow-minded disregard for data is problematic, even when it mandates racially segregated health centers wink emoticon But orally collected and transmitted data is demonstrably dubious at best and while some of it could be very accurate, it would be difficult to distinguish the noise from the signal. Compare our consternation over the literature of the Abrahamic religions and you can see how utterly impossible it becomes in just hundreds of years, let alone thousands.

waveAs far as Oscar is concerned, I have chatted about “Native ways of knowing” before. Unfortunately, much of the discussion revolving around such argument may be important as an aspect of Native cultural identity, but pales beyond that. In fact, it is the SAME argument that Christian apologists use to dispute the efficacy of science, lol. Unfortunately for them, their arguments are devastated because their premise is unfounded, the same premise Oscar argues, that science presumes a specific worldview and set of religious beliefs. But science is agnostic.

I am certainly NOT suggesting that scientific inquiry can be ignored simply because of the tradition in which it was pursued (though the context and constraints of such tradition must be taken into account.) By way of example, cultural empiricism such as described by Kim Tingley (2016) can happily be reconciled with modern geophysics.

 


Kawagley, Angayuqaq Oscar, Delena Norris-Tull, and Roger A. Norris-Tull. “The Indigenous Worldview of Yupiaq Culture: Its Scientific Nature and Relevance to the Practice and Teaching of Science.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 35, no. 2 (February 1, 1998): 133–144. Accessed April 1, 2016. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/(SICI)1098-2736(199802)35:2<133::AID-TEA4>3.0.CO;2-T/abstract.

Kleinfeld, J. S. “Intellectual Strengths in Culturally Different Groups: An Eskimo Illustration.” Review of Educational Research 43, no. 3 (1973): 341–359. Accessed April 1, 2016. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1170109.

Raghavan, Maanasa, Matthias Steinrücken, Kelley Harris, Stephan Schiffels, Simon Rasmussen, Michael DeGiorgio, Anders Albrechtsen, et al. “Genomic Evidence for the Pleistocene and Recent Population History of Native Americans.” Science 349, no. 6250 (August 21, 2015): aab3884. Accessed September 8, 2015. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/349/6250/aab3884.

Tingley, Kim. “The Secrets of the Wave Pilots.” The New York Times, March 17, 2016. Accessed April 2, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/magazine/the-secrets-of-the-wave-pilots.html.

snow_goggles

Berko Panders to DIPs

A few days ago the Anchorage Dispatch News stated that, “the Berkowitz administration recommends using the surplus for a combination of property tax relief and bolstering the city’s savings.” There was no mention of the SAP debacle. There was no mention of the fact that few in Anchorage make any net payment for any State or Local service (as it turns out, the money paid to Alaskan households by the State in the form of the Permanent Fund Dividend typically exceeds the total tax paid by Anchorage households, which was modest to begin with.)

The bottom line is that the people who do make a net payment are those who do not need tax relief.  They are households of 2 or fewer persons residing in homes valued in excess of $350,000 (and to secure a mortgage of that size we are talking a household income of over $150,000/yr.) Yes, there could be some single parents in that crowd, but we are REALLY talking about DINKs (dual income- no kids) — I prefer dual income professionals…

Give us a break, Ethan….